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tv   [untitled]    May 21, 2012 12:30am-1:00am EDT

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negotiate with the. some big parcels. 1893. the biggest of the land runs. the cherokee outfled northern oklahoma just on the kansas border was open lie land run and over 100,000 people made that run. 1901s last of the real big once. the old kyle and kemmen chee runs. all of this was opened in 1901 won by lottery. they realized that land runs were not work. put their name on a she was paper into a hopper, pull it out. the fifth homestead goes to john smith and they all celebrate and then they get their land. well, then with the five civilized tribes, there are so many members of the tribes, generally the land is divided in several team. and the individual people get their individual lands. by 1906 that process is completed and in 1907 oklahoma becomes a state. a land of contrast, of diversity
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and for a historian like me and i've been studying oc history now for 32 years, 18 books. i never cease to be amazed at the pieces of this puzzle that fit together in odd and unique ways that make oklahoma unlike any other state in the union. find out where c-span's local content vehicle are going next. online at c-span.org/local content. you're watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. from the milwaukee meeting of the organization of american historian, colombian university history professor eric foney and university of iowa history profession linda kerber argue that birthright citizenship changed history for the better
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and that the provision is unique to the united states. this is half an hour. american history tv is in milwaukee at the organization of american historians annual meeting and we're joined by professor eric foner from columbia university and linda kerber with the university of iowa. thanks to both of you for joining us. you'll be talking about at this conference about birthright citizenship and the 14th amendment. why don't you set the stage for us, mr. foner, and what is birthright citizenship? >> well, in a nutshell, this is the principle that any person born in the united states, regardless of the status of their parents, their ancestors, regardless of their race, gender, religion, any other category, is a citizen of the united states just by the virtue
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of being boerch here. of course you can also become a citizen by naturalization if you're an immigrant. but the important point is this was not a principle that goes all the way back to the institution constitution. it was really implemented or institutionalized in the aftermath of the civil war and the 14th amendment which wrote it into the constitution. first clause of the 14th amendment says explicitly any person born in the united states with one or two minor extensions, particularly native americans who at that time were thought to be citizens of their own sovereignties, but any person born in the united states is a citizen. and as i said, this was not necessarily the case before the civil war. the most dramatic example of course was the dred scott decision of 1857 in which the supreme court stated explicitly that no black person could be a citizen. free or slave. born here or not. it didn't matter. citizenship was just for white people. but the birthright citizenship principle eliminates that and says there are no other boundaries to citizen right
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other than birth in the united states. >> and this law and the 14th amendment written specifically for african-americans, the freed slaves? >> well, yes and no in a sense. it was written -- those laws were written as part of the effort of the country to come to terms with the abolition of slavery and to deal with the question of what would the status of these 4 million freed people be. and yet there the 14th amendment does not say anything about race, it does not say anything about black people. it establishes a principle and universal standard of citizenship which is to apply to everybody. it applies to chinese immigrants on the west coast, it applies to mexican americans who might come into the united states and have a child in the united states. so, yes, the catalyst is the ending of slavery, but the principle is not just limited to black people. >> before the 14th amendment, who was considered a citizen? >> that varied from state to state. there was no national standard. for example, massachusetts always insisted black people ins
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massachusetts were citizens of massachusetts and other states denied that and then the supreme court made that a national principle. but it really depended on the states, who was a citizen and what rights it they had and one of the purposes of the 14th amendment is to create this national standard so that you wouldn't have all these variations within the country. >> and obviously citizenship didn't mean the right to vote, did it, professor gerber? >> not necessarily. and that's why there is 15th amendment that says no state may deprive a person of the right to vote on the basis of race or national original or religion. there was a struggle, there was an effort to put sex into the 15th amendment which would say no person has the -- no state
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maiden the right to vote on the basis of sex, that lost. and at that moment, elizabeth katie stanton, this is 1870, and she says this is a chance to make sure that the vote is a capacious vote that all citizens will have. and if we lose that chance, she is talking in 1870, she says, we won't have it again until 1940, she says. she pulls 1940 out of the thin air. and i've always kind of felt in that way she reaches over into our own time and converses with us about -- >> there just wasn't enough political support at that time to put it in the 15th? >> that's right. there -- there -- people who are drafting the 15th are very conscious of the denial of rights to black people and they knew there had been a war over
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this and the people had died. and women they didn't think had died. so there simply weren't enough votes. charles sumner tried in fact to count the numbers, to count the noses in congress, to see if he could do it. and it put that particular amendment at risk. but women, the opening section of the 14th amendment, the one that starts "all persons born in the united states are citizens of the united states, in the state in which they live -- it says "all persons." it doesn't say, all white and black men. >> and that would have been that all persons would have been recognized as being citizens? >> that's right. that language. and so this is 1868 and there are elections in 1868 and 1870. and women went to the polls, susan b. anthony went to the
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polls in new york which were being neld a barbershop. because the idea was if only men voted, you put your registration where the guys are. she goes in to the barbershop which is already shopping and she attempts to register to vote. in various places all over the country there is an effort to test -- >> she does vote. >> she does vote. >> she does vote and then she is put on trial for illegally voting because women were not legally eligible to vote and it becomes a court case. >> so ultimately her vote doesn't count. >> the judge rules against her, but he refuses to put her in jail. but the point is that it was tested. there were women who said leave
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aside the negatives of the 15th amendment. the positive of the 14th says all persons are entitled to equal protection of the laws. and if all persons are entitled, then doesn't that include our right to vote. >> with the recognition that the u.s. is an immigrant country, is the idea of a birthright citizenship a uniquely american idea? >> it has become very uniquely american. it didn't used to be. for example, no country in europe today recognizes birthright citizenship, although many did until fairly recently and they're restricting it precisely because they themselves are dealing with social strain are going over immigration from africa, from middle east from asia. and so -- but it's a good point that the notion of birthright
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citizenship suggests some aspiration of what it is to be an american. this is not a country that defines membership in the nation through any particular religion. there are plenty of countries in the world where religion is linked directly to citizenship. it doesn't link it to language. it doesn't link to some notion of being part of a population it has an historic root. like in germany, the volk. people of german ancestor can move to germany and immediately become part of the population. but the noble principle is anybody can be an american. doesn't matter where your background is, what your ancestry is. if you come in and accept the basic principles of the society, you're equally entitled to be an american with anybody else.
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>> the issue of birthright citizenship has been tested recently. what's been the controversy and is this sort of the first time since the passage of the 14th that the concept of birthright citizenship has been -- >> let me just say and linda knows about the current controversies. let me just say it is not the first time at all. the issue came up in the late 19th century over children of chinese immigrants because at that time no one from asia could become a naturalized citizen. in other words, you could come to the united states. but if you were chinese you could not be naturalized and become a citizen. but what did that mean about children of those people born here. and the courts ruled eventually the 14th amendment applies to them, also. >> and that is a really -- it seems to me, a really important decision that we should be teaching in our schools.
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it's in some ways the proud counterpart to the dred scott decision, because at the time that he was demanding recognition of his citizenship, there was not only an impossibility for his parents to become citizen, but there was so much anti-chinese sentiment in the united states. there is vicious anti-sentiment. which some members of the u.s. supreme court personally shared. but the issue or reining opinion that says that birthright citizenship is what it should do what it was meant to do, in the debates over the 14th amendment, there is a senator from -- there were several, but one i remember particularly from pennsylvania who says in congress, okay, in
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effect, okay, i get it, we're going to make black people citizens. but you don't mean the heathen chinese, do you? the senator from illinois. you better believe it. because what they you said stood this they were doing, and this is an important piece that has been absent from our current conversation, they understood what the 14th amendment does for it will country. a lot of people think of it as a generous act to people who are here, that their children get to be citizens. fair enough. it is generous. but it is also what you see in the congressional debates is they wanted to be able to claim the allegiance of everyone who was here. and if you're a citizen, then the reciprocal is that the nation can claim your
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allegiance. the reciprocal is also that you don't really have to keep track of who was born here, whose parents were born here, who is a citizen by birth. when i register my child in school, i bring a birth certificate to show this child is born here. i don't have to bring my mother's birth certificate. i don't have to bring my grandmother's birth certificate. i don't have to prove -- no one will question me about that. >> bring us up-to-date on why the last couple years it's become such an issue. is it strictly because of immigration, because of immigration from mexico, from central america? >> we may have different views on this. i think we have a great deal of anxiety in this country about a lot of things. we have anxiety about the economy, we have anxiety about the very different racial mix
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that we have in this country from what weed had 40 years ago, say. and there's insecurity. and one of the ways that insecurity has expressed itself is a kind of nastiness and anger and resentment. >> unfortunately, i believe that's correct. but the issue has become very closely tied to the question of undocumented aliens illegal immigrants, whatever you want to call it. and for example, in arizona, a state where the anti-immigrant sentiment has been most extreme in politics, they have had bills introduced not to recognize as citizens the children of people who are undocumented in the united states. now, that would be a flagrant violation of the 14th amendment and i think those bills have not
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gotten very far for that reason. the state does not have the right to abrogate the constitution. but there was actually senator lindsey graham a couple years ago was calling for hearings on whether to change the 14th amendment, to get rid of birth right citizenship. changing the constitution is a long process, requires approval of three-quarters of the states, two-thirds of congress, would not likely happen very easily. but there was also just political pandering going on to this sense of anxiety, that people who are fearful about the future and their economic stability, it's easy to find a scapegoat. and illegal aliens are a very recognizable scapegoat at the moment. >> how quickly was the 14th amendment passed? >> well, it was written in 1866, passed by congress. it was ratified in 1868.
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but a lot of historical water passed under the bridge between those two years. the entire overthrow of the president's reconstruction policy, the institution of new governments in the south. so a lot -- but it took two years basically from congress to the ratification by the states. >> you write a good bit about abraham lincoln and your most recent book was about abraham lincoln. is there any indication all of this is a fallout from the union victory in the civil war. is there any indication about how abraham lincoln felt about immigration and citizenship? >> yes. even though the no knowings or the anti-immigrant party at that time were quite powerful, lincoln repudiated their views and in fact made it clear that the basic liberties applied to everybody no matter what your origin, immigrants were welcome,
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they were part of the american -- you know, american firmament here. lincoln did not pander to anti-immigrant sentiment the way many politicians at that time did. as to black citizenship, before the war, he was ambivalent. but during his -- the attorney general said any black citizen and is a citizen. he said the dred scott decision was wrongly decided. so the citizen ship of african-americans was recognized by the lincoln administration even before the 14th amendment. the solidification of the nation requires a solidification of the notion of citizenship. there has to be one standard for
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the nation not all these different standards state by state. >> is this when we start beginning to recognize the country is a nation of immigrants, understanding that immigration began to increase in the late 1800s? >> i'm not so sure. >> i think that comes later. >> i think that comes later and actually probably during and after the world war ii even when we start taking pride in the mixture of immigrants. let me add one more piece of why i think the 14th amendment is someone of which we should be very proud and why i think people should rally around it and protect it. if all persons born in the united states are citizens,
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then we don't have to -- then their citizenship is stable, and they are not exposed to statelessness. all over the world, one of the aftermaths of this ratcheting in of the rules of citizenship in europe and elsewhere has been the people with ambivalent histories. they're not a citizen because the parents are no longer citizens. and they're not citizens of the country in which they land because of its rules. and we haven't help since the 1920s really and since the aftermath of the world war ii and since nazis denationalized all of the jews and the soviets threw out all of the white russians. we have a crisis in this world, in which the world is just flooded with people seeking asylum, with people with unstable nationalities. many of them are children. teenagers who are caught in the cracks of the rules of nations. and the united states is not contributing largely to that population.
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if we destabilize 14th amendment, we will be part of the problem. >> although, we do have a considerable number of people in this country, estimated from 10 to 12, 14 million who are in an ambiguous state because they were not born here. and they're in the united states without proper documentation. so we do have -- >> that's right. >> the principle of the 14th amendment means that their children are recognized as citizens of the united states. >> so it stops with one generation. and we hope we can figure out what to do. >> i want to ask you a little bit about the book that you've written on women's rights. women's citizenship. the constitutional right to the ladies. women of citizenship. in "publisher's weekly," i was reading some of what they had to say about your book. they say you link the women's exemption from civic duties,
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such as jury or military service to the denial of women civics rights, such as suffrage, jury by her peers, aids, citizenship and even her body. expand on that a little bit. what were you aiming for there? >> at the time of the founding, the time of the revolution, when at marriage the husband got virtually absolute right to access to the body of his wife. there's no concept of rape in marriage until the feminists of the 1970s put it there. it seemed to follow there, then of course he can control the property. she would have to vote. she would be forced into voting just the way he did. it didn't occur to them that therefore they should take away some rights from him. and make her part of this new world of equality and democracy. and in the old law of domestic relations then the married woman
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owed her many obligations that we think is civic obligations directly to her husband. this doesn't really break down until our own time. the first time that the u.s. supreme court ruled that discrimination on the basis of sex might be a denial of the laws is 1971. and they do don't it on this point until 1973. so our understanding of how women related it to the state before that is complicated. it's not the same as when men relate it to the state. >> this point, to underscore it, it shows you why there was so much opposition to women's suffrage on the part of men. because giving women the right to vote suggests they may have a will of their own, right?
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they're not necessarily going to vote the same way their husbands want them to. it gives them relation directly to the state, circumventing the husband. to us it may not seem like such a radical idea. most countries in the world allow women to vote these days. at the time it was a threat to stability of the family of the male, males being the head of the family. that's why it took, you know, stan was right. it took many decades to achieve, even though it doesn't seem like a radical idea. >> well, at the time, one piece of this is when an american born man married foreign woman, we go back to citizenship now, she automatically became a citizen. she did not have to be naturalized. when an american-born woman married a foreign-born man, she lost citizenship. if his country did not instantly make her a subject or citizen, she was exposed to statelessness. and the u.s. supreme court said
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in 1915, this is okay. this is okay. and when american women got to vote, that the integrity of married women citizenship was one of the key things that they wanted to fix. and when they fixed it. congress would only fix it so that if you married a man who is eligible for citizenship, you could keep your citizenship, but at that time, chinese, japanese, southeast asians. >> you could marry european in other words. >> or in african. you could marry european in but you couldn't marry an asian. so american-born women lost their citizenship. ulysses grant's daughter had married. -- she had to petition to restore her citizenship. these are ways in which the history of women in the united states, the very grounding of that history has been quite different. >> and although the 14th
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amendment did a lot to define who is a citizen, the issue of citizenship -- well still isn't resolved. you pointed out in something in the euro. for example, asians -- it wasn't until the mid-1960s that the chinese -- well, in 1940, a few -- each country had a sort of quota at that time. and they gave china a quo that of like 100 who could become citizens. that's not a lot. it's really, as you say, the 1965 immigration reform act, which really tries to eliminate racial and national designations. >> you say try. did it actually do that? >> it did in the law. and as you know it, led to a very significant change in the origins of immigration. most immigration was from europe. after '65 we have so much
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immigration from asia. south asia, east asia, africa, the middle east, all over the world. so the racial con fission ration of our country has changed enormously since that law. >> well professor kerber mentioned that one senator from pennsylvania as a new immigrant group comes along, it's vilified almost equally. >> yeah, we all know that. we all know that. and i think one of the things i conclude from that or i like to think about is that we have had conflicting and contested traditions in the united states. they are grand and capacious. and they're difficult to live by. in every decade, in every generation, there's resistance. they have to be argued about. people have to be persuaded of
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them over and over again. they don't stay -- they're not -- they're not static. >> we have a couple minutes left. i'll wrap up by asking each of you, in that the issue is current, if you were called before congress to testify on the importance of the 14th amendment, what are a couple of things that you would say? >> i would mention that this is a statement about the nature of the united states as a country, the ideals that we stand for, and that we have resisted, at least since the civil war in slavery, linking membership in the nation to being a member of a it race, of a particular group, or a particular religion. and that i think to move away from that would really be a violation of deeply held principles in our history. so even though there are tensions and fears and people are angry at one person or another, holding to these deep american principles is something we ought to try to strive for.
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>> professor kerber, what would you add to that? >> i would ditto that and i would say that we -- i would want us to appreciate what the contribution that these principles -- acting on these principles have made to the robustness of this country to its vitality, to its power, to its power in the world as people want to come here and to contribute to it. it has held us back from being a greater contributor to the problems of the world than we may have otherwise been. >> linda herber from the university of iowa. and eric foner from columbia university, thanks so much for being with us here on american history tv. >> thank you for asking us. >> i work a lot now especially on sort of the build of our new site with this younger generation of digital natos. and from their point of view, they feeli
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